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France Proposes a Tax On Personal Information Collection 196

Dupple writes in with a story about a French proposal to tax companies that collect personal data online. "France, seeking fresh ways to raise funds and frustrated that American technology companies that dominate its digital economy are largely beyond the reach of French fiscal authorities, has proposed a new levy: an Internet tax on the collection of personal data. The idea surfaced Friday in a report commissioned by President François Hollande, which described various measures his government was taking to address what the French see as tax avoidance by Internet companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. These companies gather vast reams of information about their users, harnessing it to tailor their services to individuals' interests or to direct customized advertising to them. So extensive is the collection of personal details, and so promising the business opportunities linked to it, that the report described data as the "raw material" of the digital economy."
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France Proposes a Tax On Personal Information Collection

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  • Hilarious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rakhar ( 2731433 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:38AM (#42646691)
    While I don't believe this is in any way viable to enforce, I think it would be hilarious to sit back and watch the aftermath.
  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:43AM (#42646753)

    I think a bigger question is how would you enforce such a tax on a company that has no assets in France. Does Facebook have any datacenters or offices here? If no, then .... what is France going to do? Start censoring any website that doesn't pay them? I mean, that's the fundamental thing they're complaining about, right - companies that sell into the French market and make money there don't pay corporate taxes because, hm, they don't actually run their business from there. So why would this new tax be any different?

    I'm really wondering if the current French government even cares about France being seen as a serious country. Taxes targeted at a handful of companies aren't going to resolve their budget deficit problems or even make a noticeable dent. This move strongly reminds me of their threats to nationalize ArcelorMittal if they closed a factory. The factory was closed and the threat was not carried through.

  • by Raumkraut ( 518382 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:07AM (#42647003)

    Wont this legitimize any and all collections of personal information as long as the tax gets paid?

    Tax is levied on alcohol and tobacco, yet there are still licences and regulations behind selling either one.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:08PM (#42647635) Homepage

    They may not say it, but yes, they do think that everybody in the world who is not French is inferior to them.

    See, that's the difference between the Americans and the French: The Americans think that they're better than everyone else, and say it loudly and proudly!

    As far as dumb political choices go, the Americans elected and re-elected George W Bush. Enough said.

  • Re:Hilarious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:30PM (#42647911)

    I think its a great idea. Corporations think they can collect and use any data they can get their hands on. Anything that'll make them slow down is a good thing.

    I agree that anything that will "slow them down" is a good thing. But here's the problem: this will actually incent them to further monetize the data they collect. What does a corporation do if they invariably collect personal data as part of their normal business operations, with no intent to share it, but then find themselves taxed as a result? Beware the unintended consequences that usually arise when the public sector imposes economic impacts on the private sector in the attempt to control behavior.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:45PM (#42648095)

    So you impose the tax on collection not where the data is stored. If you collect data about a french citizen/computer and your company does business in anyway in france you have to pay. Pretty simple method that is in use for lots of things.

  • Re:Hilarious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @01:22PM (#42648455)

    In France the state has educated people they are entitled. Its a right. When that 'right' is infringed, there will be violence.

    While I find your points interesting and mostly agree with them, you have one thing backwards. In France, the people have educated the state that they are entitled to certain benefits. When those rights are infringed, there is violence. Pretty much since the storming of the Bastille, the French - and particularly the Parisians - have been very quick to protest and to riot. For some lesser known examples, look up the Parisian Communes and the term 68ards: while in the US specifically, the anti-establishment movement was built on peace and love, in Paris it was built on riots and street violence.

    The result is that the French government is probably one of the western governments that is most afraid of its population. And also a perfect example of just how easy it is for a population to get awesome toys, even without going through the proper democratic process.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead